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Alive at the Deep Blues Fest

(Alive; US: 27 Nov 2012; UK: 3 Dec 2012)

Raunchy, steaming blues-rock

Alive Records is a terrific label, a powerhouse of roots-rock and muddy, murky electric blues. This compilation of live tracks is culled from performances at the 2012 Deep Blues Fest in Bayport, MN, and it serves as a nice showcase for some of the label’s premiere bands. John the Conqueror shreds mercilessly on standout track “Three More”, while Radio Moscow tears it up with plenty of wah-wah and deep fuzz on both “Hold On Me” and “Little Eyes”. All the bands rely heavily on distorted guitar, so the tremulous organ line running through Brian Olive’s “Travelling” amounts to a major deviation, all in the service of the record’s best song. The final two tracks are standouts, too, as Henry’s Funeral Show treats the listener to crunching, fuzzed-out versions of “Be Your Own Invention / Stranger Dig” and “Henry’s Funeral Shoe”. The album is limited in its scope and intentions, but as a primer for Contemporary Blues-Rock 101, things don’t get much better than this.

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DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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